Farah endorses Taylor appointment
Wests Tigers skipper Robbie Farah has given a ringing endorsement of new coach Jason Taylor after meeting him for the first time last week – and the incoming Tigers mentor has Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce to thank for it.
The Wests Tigers announced the appointment of Taylor as their new head coach, together with the significant addition of Phil Moss as General Manager of Football Operations, last Monday.
And it didn't take long for the former Eels and Rabbitohs coach to reach out to Farah, who came out of a one-on-one meeting with Taylor last Thursday buoyed by his plans to return the joint venture club back to NRL relevancy.
Taylor met with the rest of the squad just before the club's annual Grand Final Luncheon at Le Montage, Lilyfield, the next day.
"I only heard about it when everyone else did, but I met with JT, had a really good chat with him [last Thursday] and was really impressed by his vision and what he wants to bring to this club," Farah told NRL.com.
"As a group he spoke to us [on Friday] and I think I speak for all the boys when I say we're really excited about getting stuck into it on the 5th of November and preparing for next year with him.
"And obviously Phil Moss as well I think is a good appointment for the club. He's very experienced, has been involved in the game for a long time, and I think together the pair of them can hopefully lead us back to some success in the near future."
Farah, 30, endured a rocky relationship with previous coach Mick Potter, particularly after commentator Gordon Tallis publically aired Farah's private thoughts on Potter's ability as coach.
So it was no surprise to see Taylor move quickly last week to establish a strong relationship with arguably the most prominent figure at Concord.
"My relationship with all of the players is enormously important, but no one more important than the captain of the team," he said.
"So I definitely wanted to talk to Robbie one on one before I met with the team so he and I were clear about how our relationship's going to build. Not a great deal came out of that conversation other than the fact that he knows where I'm coming from."
Taylor, 43, spent one year in a caretaking role at Parramatta before picking up the clipboard at Redfern for three years, where he was eventually sacked due to an altercation with then-player David Fa'alogo at a post-season function.
Now having steadied his coaching career with four seasons as an assistant at Roosters HQ, a more mature Taylor said he could empathise with the dramatic off-field issues that troubled Farah's back-end of 2014.
"I talked to him about the fact that rugby league can be a real tough game on and off the field and just how I understand how he felt because as a player and a coach I've gone through those ups and downs," Taylor said.
"We all do, and you keep fighting back. But yeah, I just wanted him to understand that I know what that feels like. And I think that that would help him to realise that I can be a good sounding board and give him good support, because we're going to have some tough times again.
"Everybody's here had a tough year, but we're not going to be immune from that, from going through some tough times again. It's just how you come out the other side of it."
But the primary reason for Farah's optimism towards the selection of Taylor was a recommendation from good mate and Roosters halfback Mitchell Pearce.
Despite the disappointment of missing out on Origin this season, Pearce reached career-best form in his side's late push for back-to-back premierships and told Farah that Taylor had played a major role in it.
"He worked wonders with Junior [Pearce] and Jimmy [Maloney] at the Roosters and I know having spoken to Junior, he's really disappointed that JT will no longer be there. I think that says a lot about the impact that he had there and we're hoping that he can have the same impact at our club," Farah said.
"Obviously with JT being an ex-halfback, it really helped Pearcey's game and I think everyone saw – there's no doubt in my opinion, Junior, at the back end of the year especially, was in career best form.
"There's no doubt he would've been disappointed having missed out on the Origin series but credit to him and his mental toughness mate, for him to come back and play the way he did was tremendous. JT had a big part to do with that. [Pearce is] disappointed he won't be there but obviously it's a big gain for us here at the Tigers."
Farah, who described the 2014 season as "one of the most difficult in my career", was looking forward to more stable era at the club after the appointment of three independent board members and a new coach.
"I think that these decisions are being made, the board have conducted themselves really well. There's been a tight lid kept on things. There weren't leaks coming out on decisions being made and I think that's a little area we've improved on straight away," he said.
"The old saying is that 'Winning starts in the front office'. Well, we've got more stability at the top now and it's our responsibility as players to translate that into success on the field. We can't sit here and make excuses.
"There's no doubt the last two years have been disappointing, for everyone involved in the club. So now it's our job as players to turn around and do our job, focus on the footy. Obviously our fans have been disappointed so we owe it to them to have a big year next year."